Emerging Visions SXSW: Romain Gavras’ Film Our Day Will Come

by Claiborne Smith SOURCE SXSW

Romain Gavras' film, Our Day Will Come having a special run at SXSW 2011 is difficult to look away from, and difficult to look at.

Romain Gavras’ feature film debut, Our Day Will Come (Notre Jour Viendra) is raw, driven, and a little mad. It’s difficult to look away from, and difficult to look at. It’s the story of Patrick (Vincent Cassel) and Rémy (Olivier Barthelemy) - two misfits who come to rely on one another as they travel through a bleak industrial French landscape, eager to one-up each other in tests of their manhood.

At first, Patrick, who’s older, is in charge and eager to sadistically force Rémy to become someone besides the submissive, quiet, and possibly gay young man he appears to be; then Rémy takes over (with a crossbow, no less). Our Day Will Come socks you in the gut and doesn’t let go - it takes a few days to turn it over in your mind, and even then it’s hard to say conclusively that it is a meditation on violence, modern French life, or manhood, because it’s all those things at once. Gavras (the son of Costa-Gavras) has directed a number of music videos, including M.I.A.’s “Born Free”, but with Our Day Will Come, Gavras stakes his artistic flag - whatever you think of the film, you won’t forget it after you watch it.

How did the two actors playing the leads get involved?

Romain Gavras: I’ve known Vincent Cassel and Olivier Barthelemy for over 15 years now. Vincent was helping us when we started doing short films, he was playing in them etc... and one day he asked me if I wanted him to produce my first film. Then I wrote the film with my co-writer Karim Boukercha; we basically wrote the film for them.

How did you know they were right for the film? So much of the film's success depends on their chemistry and the fact that they play their parts with such perseverance.

Gavras: Well, the parts are really for them. In life they are not those characters of course, but they are good friends and they have a kind of similar dynamic sometimes. So i knew the chemistry would work for sure.

For much of the film, Patrick and Rémy are alone, and the landscape is bleak. Why did you choose the industrial landscape they're in?

Gavras: I think in this film the landscape is the third leading role. It starts in a really typical Northern France small town urban landscape, and as their journey into madness and identity researching goes by, the landscape becomes more and more abstract and deserted. The landscape basically evolves with their state of mind.

Do you remember where the idea for the film first came from?

Gavras: I wanted to do a film about freedom. Freedom in every sense of the word. Freedom in the writing (this is why the film is not very explanatory, because we took a lot of freedom while writing). Freedom in the shooting, and freedom in the story and characters itself. It's basically two guys having a quest for freedom that goes nowhere.

What's been the reaction to the film so far, and have you been surprised by any of those reactions?

Gavras: Well, I was actually surprised the film is selling really well abroad, doing nice festivals. I think a lot more people feel it than I expected. In France, however, some people saw it as a provocative film because they relate it too much with some violent videos i did for Justice or M.I.A. But in the end for me it's a romantic comedy in its own way - comedy because parts of it are funny, and romantic because a quest full of despair that goes nowhere is romantic, in my opinion.

What's next for you?

Gavras: I’m writing my next film based on a south american book. i m still early in the process to talk about it more.